Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Wouldn’t you like to be able to work just sitting on the beach?

Let’s face it, many people would love a job where they could sit out on the beach and claim that they were working.

Whilst it’s clearly not an option for everyone, there’s getting to be quite a growth in information jobs which would let you do exactly that. Well, in principle anyway: as always, it’s rarely so simple as it might appear.

If you consider the very popular route of blogging, you’ll find that the vast majority of blogs don’t make any sizeable amount of money. Why? Well, the normal route of using adsense doesn’t work particularly well with sites with dynamic content as it usually takes adsense a couple of days to get the keyword targeting right by which time your blog will have moved on and a different set of keywords would be relevant. Secondly, you need major traffic or very well targeted traffic for affiliate schemes to work.

However, there is the option of doing sponsored posts which can be profitable even with relatively low traffic volumes. Typically you can make around $20 per day on a site with PR2 or above by writing three or four articles each day of, usually, 50 to 200 words each. If your blog gets to PR5 or over you can do really well with this option.

Other potential options are selling e-books or charging for subscriptions which are popular with some making money online blogs. There’s even SubHub which might eventually evolve into a worthwhile venture for the participants although at the moment it’s mainly an article repository for Internet business articles with a sideline in running up and hosting custom blog templates (at a rather exorbitant price).

Naturally, you don’t need to choose one single route to making money online. Personally, I do sponsored posts on blogs and also have a range of adsense funded sites with subscription options.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Would you, should you or can you advertise on Twitter?

Although you might not think there was a whole lot of scope for advertising in a medium that only gives you 140 characters to play with, there are a growing number of ways to advertise through Twitter although whether or not they’re actually effective is an entirely different question.

The means for handling the advertising varies quite a bit as you’d expect for a fairly new type of media. For instance, since the tweets themselves are rather fleeting affairs on the tweet streams of the more prolific twitterers, Twittad takes the approach of using the background image to place the main advert and uses the tweet stream to announce that the twitter account is sponsored. The system works in a similar way to blog sponsorship platforms which is to say that you write up a little profile of your twitter account and advertisers can choose you based on that or alternatively you can choose some advertisers. Payout seems to be around the $2.50 a week level which is OK in that you don’t need to do much for that.

Another service that’s possibly more interesting to the advertisers than the twitterers is Twtad which works on the pay per click model. The problem with this one is that the payment is typically 5 cents or less which would be alright for a system that was entirely automated but this system isn’t. Since click-through is typically quite low this system isn’t really worthwhile unless you have LOT of followers (10,000 or more perhaps) and if you have then you should be able to pick up more money elsewhere.

A more comprehensive version of this is Be a Magpie which is an automated service offering pay per view, pay per click, pay per lead and pay per sale. You can set it so that you have to pre-approve tweets but leaving it on automatic seems best and will put a Magpie tweet every 5 ot 10 (you set the interval) of your tweets. All else being equal this one seems by far the best bet for the twitterers in that once it’s set up it can be fully automated. It’s good from the advertisers point of view too in that it offers the four different payment methods.

The latest entrant seems to be Betweeted which I gather operates on the basis of the twitterer choosing advertisers to tweet about so is quite similar to the usual blog sponsorship services. So far it’s only for US bloggers and nobody else can even register to look at how it works.

So, you can advertise via Twitter, but the question is: should you? If you followed the original principles of Twitter ie that it’s a service for “friends, family members and co-workers to stay connected” then the answer is probably not. After all, you wouldn’t hand out advertising leaflets to these people, would you? However, the service has moved a long way from that and most people have followers who are complete strangers and lots of others are tweeting to promote themselves or their business, in which case the answer is: why not? Aside from advertising third parties, more and more companies are moving on to Twitter to promote their products and, of course, there’s always been the self-promotion of bloggers tweeting their posts (some cross-promote their tweets on their blog) so advertising is very much a feature of Twitter that seems here to stay.

Finally, there’s the question of effectiveness of Twitter advertising ie does it actually work? Well, I’ve been tweeting my own blog posts for a while now and it would appear that it’s quite an effective way of gathering new readers for the blog so presumably it would be equally effective for advertising tweets, or at least those that fit in with the general interest of the followers.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Logistics of moving the blog to the new host

Many people stay with their original hosting company regardless of the ongoing level of service, facilities on offer or even price simply because it seems like a nightmare to even contemplate moving to another hosting company. However, it’s not nearly so difficult as many people think.

For HTML only sites it’s a doddle and for the majority of people complications only appear when they’re trying to move a blog which means that they need to move a database. Since that’s the most complex situation that most people encounter I’ll go through that here.

First off you need to set up an account with a new hosting provider. There are oodles of these around the world with prices ranging from free to around $10/month and levels of service ranging from dreadful to excellent. Which is best depends a lot on your requirements in terms of physical location of the hosting, amount of storage space, bandwidth and pricing and it’s generally best to spend some time going through reviews of the services before you make your final selection.

If possible, it’s handy to have a similar cpanel setup on both old and new services as this makes the move a whole lot more seamless. In my case the cpanel setup on EUKHost and HostGator are almost identical which made this move considerably easier.

Once you’ve the new account setup the easiest way to move the site is by running the cpanel backup utility which’ll copy your entire site onto your PC (“download home directory”); if no backup utility is available to you, you can use FTP instead though it’ll take longer as it doesn’t compress the information. Next step is to restore this backup on your new host which you can do via the backup utility in cpanel (“restore home directory”) or by FTP.

That’s sufficient for non-database sites although you’ll still need to redirect the domain (see later).

For blogs or other database driven sites you need go back to the backup utility and  “Download a MySQL Database Backup”, selecting the appropriate database then do the reverse on your new host.

That’s pretty much the move completed or at least it’s the part that’ll take the longest amount of time for you. Next up is to point the domain to the new host and then you need to wait a bit because it can take quite a while for the domain change to be reflected right across the Internet (anything up to about 48 hours). Finally, you need to add the domain as an add-on domain on the new host.

If you’ve been clever you’ll have used the same username for the account on the new host as this’ll mean that the site is ready to go. If you haven’t you’ll need (on WordPress) to edit the file wp-config.php to reflect the new usernames and passwords.

Incidently, the site will remain operational during the domain transfer so long as you don’t remove the domain from the original host (it can be listed in both hosts). Since the move should be seamless, you should create a small file called something like where.htm and upload this to both old and new servers with a little text message saying “this is hosted on X” or “this is hosted on Y” so that you’ll know the move has been made.

And that’s it. It’s generally best to leave the old hosting account running for a week or two just in case you’ve missed something although if you’re pretty close to the renewal date you could cut this short (just make sure you checkout the whole website though!).

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Is trying to keep jurors in the dark about information from outside the courtroom still a viable option?

Whilst we all diplore the blatent censorship of the Internet by the Chinese authorities, it would appear that the UK legal system wishes that it could do exactly the same thing in order to properly implement its practice of “reporting restrictions”.

In fact, it has already had such a system of censorship in effect back in 2006 when the New York Times felt it prudent to follow the reporting restrictions issued for a trial then underway. Thus, everywhere else in the world except in the UK the article in question could be read. Or, at least that was the intention. As always on the Internet there are ways around such things and accessing the site through an online proxy let anyone in the UK read the article.

At any one time there are a number of cases affected by these reporting restrictions which are intended to avoid the publication of information which could prejudice the outcome of the trial in question or to protect the names of the people involved in the trial. In addition to specific reporting restrictions there are more general restrictions regarding, for example, reporting of the names of children. These practices date back centuries and clearly a hundred or more years ago stopping the publication of information in the various newspapers of the time was quite effective in ensuring that the jurors did not have access to information about the case outside the courtroom. However, things have moved on somewhat in the intervening centuries.

Up to 10 or 15 years ago one could easily read information about the higher profile cases in foreign newspapers even when reporting on them had been banned by the UK legal system although notably the New York Times did not distribute the issue of the paper noted above in the UK. However, as Steven Bates pointed out back in 1995 the only truly effective way of implementing them would be to unhook the UK from the Internet. Worryingly, as China has shown this is now a potentially viable option but one hopes that it will never be considered as such by the UK.

Although there are presumably instances of even the smallest trial being reported on over the Internet the effect is most noticeable with high profile cases. The snag with those is that often the opinions expressed are very highly charged and thus potentially very prejudicial to the outcome of a trial were jurors to have come across some of them. At least two trials have already come to grief courtesy of independent Internet research by jurors and no doubt there will be more whilst the current “jurors must be ignorant” approach remains in place.

However, although the Internet has brought to prominance the possibility of jurors researching a case themselves in fact they have been able to do that for a considerable period of time already. Libraries contain exactly the kind of background information in the form of archived newspapers that the courts would wish banned from the Internet once a court issues a reporting restriction order. The snag is that the Internet has a much higher profile than the libraries ever did and is, of course, much more accessible. Combine that with the fact that even deleted articles are available courtesy of googles caching and you have the problem that once anything is published, it stays published.

But, there is no reason why that presumption of the ignorance of jurors should be retained. After all, the American legal system seems to operate quite well without it. Granted it will require changes in the British legal system to allow the dropping of this mechanism of reporting restrictions but surely the increased public visibility of the operation of the courts that would follow can only be a good thing?

One suspects that it will be quite some time before the British courts go so far as those in Arizona and permit the jurors to ask questions but it seems high time that they accepted that jurors are likely to have seen something about the case before the trial and allow for that.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

A change of theme for the blog

With summer approaching fast I thought I’d give my new theme a whirl and use any feedback to tidy it up a little before releasing it on an unsuspecting world.

This is the theme I was working on off and on throughout last year. It’s got oodles of options on it so I’ll likely be playing around with some of them in the coming weeks but, so far, seems pretty workable with the current settings (I’ve been using it on some other blogs for several months now).

Big pluses are that it’s fully widget enabled so no more hunting around for missing things that always seems to happen when you change a theme. Also, it’s very easy to change from a full splash background to a plain and simple one.

Now, all I need to do is talk Wendy into using it on her blogs too to simplify looking after them all…

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.